Retreat does not mean separatists can now use airport, says defense expert ({{commentsTotal}})

The pullback of Ukrainian forces from the Donetsk airport does not mean the separatists can restore and begin to use the airport, says Martin Hurt, the deputy head of the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn.

“The ceasefire was officially signed in the fall, but there have not been many casualty-free days. It that sense the ceasefire has only existed on paper,” he told ETV, adding that the situation now has escalated.

“As long as the airport is within the range of Ukrainian artillery, it will be very hard to utilize it,” Hurt said.

The constant denial by Russia that its forces are not in Ukraine is part of the information war, Hurt said. “I am no longer certain intelligence agencies of European nation give their politician the proof that Russian troops are there. Russia gives politicians the chance to doubt the fact that the troops are there, thus removing the need to take very difficult political decisions in some European nations,” Hurt said.

“There are nations in Europe which do not see the wider events in Ukraine and Russia as a significant problem,” he said, adding that southern nations have other issues, such as the war in Syria.

He said the sanctions are there, but will have to be renewed in March and in the summer. “The fresh attack will not make it easier for politicians, who in reality would like to drop the sanctions,” he said.

Speaking about Estonia's security situation, Hurt said there is one positive aspect for Estonia. “What it [Russia] is doing right now it could have hypothetically done first in Latvia or Estonia. But the Western world now has time to learn its lessons from what is going on in Ukraine and make the right conclusions, Hurt said.

Editor: J.M. Laats